Everything We Know About Rio Olympics So Far

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Now that there are fewer than 100 days until the start of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, here’s a brief debriefing (and reminder that the games exist) with the good, the bad and the ugly
proceedings preceding the Games.

The Good

Team ROA
For the first time in Olympic history, the IOC will allow a team of Refugee Olympic Athletes
(ROA)
to compete in the Games. Between five and 10 selected athletes will walk under the Olympic flag and perform the Olympic Anthem. According to IOC President Thomas Bach, “They will have a home together with all the other 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees in the Olympic Village.”

No Visa, No Problem
From June 1 through Sept. 18, Brazil’s lifting their normal $160 reciprocity fee and allowing Americans to enter the country visa-free for up to 90 days. Brazilian officials hope the open-door policy will not only boost tourism to the South American nation but also jump-start the country’s struggling economy.

The Bad

Zika Virus
Brazil’s currently the epicenter of Zika, the mosquito-born virus—that’s on the news every other day—that’s most commonly linked to babies born with abnormally small heads. Though the World Health Organization (WHO) believes athletes and fans shouldn’t fear traveling to the Rio Games, the lack of vaccine, diagnostic testing and therapeutic interventions startles potential spectators and competitors alike. In fact, many American athletes are considering skipping the Games altogether—but maybe they should check out South Korea’s Zika-proof suits before completely bailing.

Presidential Problems
Could you imagine an Olympic Games without a presidential welcoming? That could soon be
the case in Rio. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is currently under impeachment
proceedings
In mid-May the country’s senate will decide whether she will go on trail. If the senate moves ahead with the trial, Rousseff won’t be around with a waving hand for the thousands of dignitaries at the opening ceremony.

The Ugly

Water Pollution
The venues may be complete, but the cleanup isn’t even close. Water testing by the AP revealed alarmingly high levels of viruses and “bacteria from human sewage.” Though organizers insist the water’s safe, the AP’s study seems to disagree, saying that “Athletes who ingest three teaspoons of water have a 99 percent chance of being infected by viruses.” Let’s hope someone invents the antibiotic wetsuit in the coming weeks.

Lackluster Ticket Sales
So much has changed since Rio was awarded the 2016 Olympic Games in 2009.Brazil currently sits in the midst of its worst economic recession since the 1930s, and judging by the ongoing protests, it’s less stable, too. Factor these with the threat of Zika, ongoing corruption and near-rampant violence and you have a recipe for dismality. Thus far, with fewer than 100 days to go, the Games have managed to sell less than half of the 7.5 million tickets. Olympic officials downplay the lackluster sales with excuses that Brazilians don’t buy tickets so early, like Brits or Germans. But this doesn’t change the fact that early ticket applications garnered five times fewer applications than the London Games. Something’s up, and Brazil’s only backup plan seems to be to give away tickets to schoolchildren.

Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.

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